Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My top 10 moments at Bett 2017

It's hard to believe that Bett started almost two weeks ago now. I had a fantastic time and attended as a visitor for the Thursday and Friday.

It was a busy time meeting lots of different people, both arranged and in-the-moment. I couldn't possibly mention everything and everyone so I've jotted down a mixture of my favourite talks, products and stands. If you are reading this and we met, then thank you very much. You contributed to a very enjoyable couple of days!

Also, thanks to everyone who had an explore of our tool, Thinking Kit, which allows teachers and students to create their own educational iPad activities.

  1. Filming my 60 second clip in the UKEdChat booth

    It was so good to finally meet Colin and Martin from UKEdChat. I was planning on popping by their stand anyway but on my first morning there, I was waiting for a talk by Greg Hughes nearby (which was excellent) and saw their stand. It was brilliant to have a chat in person after having emailed each other for years! Colin kindly let me into their inflatable booth to film this clip.

  2. Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on creativity

    Towards closing time on my final day, I headed to the Bett Arena 15 minutes early whilst thinking to myself “wow, look at you being so early”...I got there and I couldn't even get close to the entrance! People had obviously been a lot earlier than me! The arena was packed but all around there were rows and rows of excited faces waiting. As the talk got closer, more and more people appeared behind me. I was in the last row allowed into the actual arena (standing only). Luckily, the arena isn't totally encased so even all the people behind the barriers could see.

    I've included one of my highlight quotes of the talk above but there were so so so many more, so what I'll do is leave you with his talk 'Do schools kill creativity?', the most watched Ted Talk of all time, as that will give you a better perspective into his thoughts than I can.

  3. Heston Blumenthal’s talk on the psychology behind food

    Heston doesn't look any different but it feels like SO long ago that he burst onto our screens with his weird and wonderful creations using food. With a bit of spare time from my meetings, I headed to the arena. This was just really interesting and made everyone think. As Heston explains, everyone MUST eat and what you eat is so important, so why is it often not given the attention it deserves in education?

  4. Hearing about Plymouth School of Creative Arts

    Dave Strudwick and Andy Carpenter (Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher) told the Learn Live: Secondary theatre all about their approach to learning. They looked at EVERYTHING that schools do, and considered why. If there was a perfectly good reason for something, then by all means, they would keep it in. If they couldn't see how a certain rule or method would be useful in this current day though, they would re-consider its use. Their use of Project Based Learning is very inspiring and seeing how passionate their students were about a project was fantastic to see.

  5. Bumping into Martin Bailey at breakfast

    As my first full day was the Thursday, I'd heard so much about the Wednesday on Twitter without being involved myself...I was excited but slightly nervous too, so it was really nice to see a familiar face at breakfast. Martin hosts two fantastic events in June. Having been, I really recommend going! I've heard people liken the conference (9th June) to ‘Bett in the early days’ or ‘Newcastle’s answer to Bett’. There's also a TeachMeet 'Talk on the Tyne' the night before. This year, Martin has arranged some brilliant speakers once again. Whether you're reading this from an educator or company perspective, it's worthwhile for both.

    Read about the events here.

  6. Trying out Class VR

    I had a meander around the exhibition stands for an hour on my first day and this kit really impressed me. I hadn't ever tried a VR headset so one minute being at Bett, and the next being around the pyramids, was a very big surprise!

  7. Marshmallows and chocolate fountain delight at the EDLounge stand

    Walking to one of my final meetings on Thursday, the huge amount of walking and carrying heavy bags was starting to creep up on me. I spotted a chocolate fountain and was greeted by someone very friendly on the EDLounge stand. Next thing, I was presented with marshmallows covered in warm liquid chocolate and a fork - what an afternoon pick-me-up!

  8.  Seeing students talking from Halycon London International School

    First thing on my second full day, I headed to the Google stand. The students had already started talking and it was quite a full crowd. It was just brilliant to see the confidence, eloquence and passion from young people talking about how they learn and express their learning.

  9. Meeting a new customer by accident

    I was visiting my friends in Bett Futures on the VEO (Video Enhanced Observation) stand and Jon Haines, Co-Founder, was due to talk on the Bett Futures stages very soon. The lady who he was presenting with was there, waiting, so we got chatting. It turned out she was from a school who'd signed up for Thinking Kit the day before! Lovely surprise and really nice meeting her.

  10.  Free Google Cardboard

    I spotted a Google Cardboard vending machine on my first day, but there was a big queue and I wasn't sure what exactly was going on. After scrolling through Twitter, I found lots of excitable tweets with people having received free sets, so the next day, I couldn't resist. Since then, I have absolutely loved using it! I have so far got several members of my family to try it out too and they're hooked.

    After all of this, it was time to head home. What a lovely sight my trip ended with. If you fancy trying Thinking Kit, please get in touch (natalie@reflectivethinking.com) or start a free trial at www.thinking-kit.com.

Friday, 20 January 2017

5 things to do at Bett

Bett 2017 (register here) is nearly here, and I realised this time is my first as a ‘visitor’. I was on a stand before so had limited flexibility to explore.

I’ve planned quite a few specific things for my time there, but everyone’s different, so you may prefer to go to different talks to the ones I’ve picked, or you may want to visit different stands to me! For this reason, in this blog post I wanted to share some general tips. The ExCeL arena is huge and there’s so much going on, so here are my top five tips, in no particular order:

  1. Check the schedule of talks/seminars

    This is something I’m particularly looking forward to, as I didn’t get to see any talks last time. With 14 different theatres and SO many different options to choose from, there really is something for everyone. I have roughly planned out which ones I am making a priority to see, but if you have a top recommendation, let me know.

  2.  Visit the exhibition halls

    You may have already planned to go but I've included this as sometimes, when you think of an event exhibition, you have visions of nervously scuttling around trying to avoid making eye contact of sales people on stands that you know you’ll never actually buy from. However, with the Bett show, there is so much fun stuff going on at different stands. Whether that be talks by EdTech influencers/Apple Distinguished Educators in the Apple Village, or presentations by enthusiastic students about how they’re learning in their schools.

    Even if you think at first glance, there’s nothing a particular stand has to offer you, you may be surprised! Everyone is so friendly too - what if they have a top tip for you or know about something cool planned?

  3. Check the hashtag #Bett2017

    As well as scheduled talks and events, there’s often extra things going on that you may not hear about other than via the power of social media. Check the hashtag #Bett2017 throughout your time and you may come across an informal gathering you like the sound of, and it's worth is just for the highlights of the best talks and video snippets of exciting things happening all around the arena.

  4. Take notes when you can

    We’ve all been there - in the height of bedlam at a conference, we get chatting to the person next to us or we hear an idea we like the sound of, or even an exciting new app or innovation that we just cannot wait to try when we get home. However, because of all of the sheer excitement happening around us, things can often get mixed up or we forget who gave us what. If something really interests you and you want to make sure you follow that person on Twitter later, why not pop it in your Notes app on your phone, or jot it down in your (probably) freebie notepad with your freebie pen? This way, when you’re all cosy and back at home, you’ll be reminded of those things that you really didn’t want to miss out on.

  5. Have a cuppa and some reflection time.

    I think it’s important to pace yourself at Bett. It’s a fantastic event and you'll come across so many new things and meet many new people. Depending on how long you’re there, try and grab a cuppa/lunch in one of the many refreshments areas. Reflect on what you’ve already seen/discuss ideas with your colleagues. Out of all of the things you’ve looked at or heard about, highlight the top three things you think you can take back with you and really help benefit you, your school and/or your students.

BONUS TIP: I didn’t want to include this in the top 5 tips as it would exclude people who aren’t staying until then, but I just wanted to mention the TeachMeet on Friday 27th January. It’s in the main arena and is on from 6pm-9pm. You should still be able to get tickets, and if you want to, pop your name down to share your ideas with the crowd.

I hope this has helped and that you’re looking forward to Bett. I'll be there all day Thursday and Friday, as well as the TeachMeet so if you’d like a demo of our tool (an iPad tool to create activities and encourage collaboration/higher level thinking) or even just a chat, email me at natalie@reflectivethinking.com or send us a tweet @refthinking.

Thanks, Natalie

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Biggest Ever Big Question

Monday 16th January 2017 is a special day to many. It is Martin Luther King Day. Children all over the world are going to be answering a special Big Question to commemorate it. A question posed by SOLE creator, Professor Sugata Mitra:

“How is a massively connected world different to the one we have now and different to the one Dr King was in 50 years ago?"

This means that for the first time ever, you/your students will be able to answer the same Big Question, on the same day as many other groups across five continents. Freedom City 2017 will also be collecting responses to the question across Facebook and Twitter. The event is very exciting and it will be so interesting to see the differences between answers.

The organisers explain that the Big Question can be answered 'wherever and however you like - using words, images, videos, technology, performance, artwork or anything else you can think of!'

It's a perfect project to try out the Thinking Kit Creator with. Using this tool (which has a 30 day free trial), students could create a free iPad activity about the Big Question, ready for others to use. Alternatively, it could be used as more of a 'presentation tool' to showcase their answer to others around the world. All they need to do is add images and text and the tool transforms this information into an activity that can then be downloaded free, within the free app. This can be used anywhere in the world.

Whatever you decide to do, if you'd like to share it with others and join the global conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #FreedomCity2017 or #SOLE.

We'll see you on the 16th!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Teacher wellbeing series

I’m not sure about where you are in the world right now, but here, I definitely feel like Christmas is close. Festive songs are playing on the radio and many houses I drive by are lit up or there are subtle glimpses of trees behind many curtains.

It’s a busy time for everyone, but for teachers, it’s almost a race against time: end-of-term activities, work, tests, projects, nativities, plays, carol concerts, charity days, reviews etc. etc. This list is excluding the mania in your actual, personal life too! So I thought, what better time to do a 3-part ‘teacher wellbeing’ series via email?

Sign up at the link below (completely free) and I will email you a wellbeing graphic to help you now, but also something that will be useful all through 2017 and forever more. Then Thursday 15th, I'll email another, then your third on 22nd. These include de-stress tips and how teachers can get better sleep..

To sign up for this free email series, please email natalie@reflectivethinking.com with the subject ‘Teacher wellbeing’ OR click through to sign-up via our form.